After successfully moving on from Riley House at Ascend, I had made a life for myself. I had some friends, a community of support, and a job. Still, I needed something more. Once I got sober, it felt like all of the energy that I had previously spent on finding and using drugs was now burning in my bones, waiting to sink its teeth into something new. When I came to Ascend at 23 years old, I had dropped out of college and almost given up on the idea entirely. Six months later, with some healing and nourishment under my belt, it only made sense for me to give college another try. I enrolled for two classes at the local community college, with the intent to ease myself into what had previously been a very stressful part of life for me.
In the two years I spent in college before getting sober, I made dismal grades. I couldn’t show up to classes, and I lied to my parents at the end of every semester about my scores. I had no idea what I wanted to do, and by the end, I didn’t even think I was cut out for school. Though I was a good student throughout high school, it suddenly felt like that was just a fluke – that I wasn’t actually smart or capable of finishing college. With a brain full of drugs, I felt useless and dumb, and I gave up on any notion of a professional future.
The decision to go back to school was a scary one, especially while also holding a job and maintaining my recovery. I’m grateful to have started at a community college, where things were a little slower-paced and the other students were often “non-traditional” (aka older) like myself. Eventually, I learned how to learn again. I began to raise my hand and show up for class and study in advance. I re-discovered my love for reading and writing, and after a few semesters I transferred to The University of Utah as a Strategic Communications major.
After a few semesters, I realized that I am actually smart and fully capable of graduating college. It wasn’t my high school success that was the fluke – it was the student who was on drugs that couldn’t show up. Now, clear-headed and sober, my life was finally moving in a direction, and I was headed straight for graduation! With all of my energy focused on school, I decided to take it even further and apply to law school. I spent countless hours studying for the LSAT, applying to law schools, and praying that my history of substance abuse wouldn’t disqualify me from my professional dreams.
In less two years, with summer classes and an internship and a job, I finally finished my classes. Last week, I graduated from college (with a 4.0 gpa) and it was probably one of the happiest, proudest days of my young life. The only thing better than making your parents proud is making yourself proud! And in the fall, I will be moving to San Diego, CA to attend law school.
I could have been in jail right now, or laying in bed shaking and quivering in need of drugs. Instead, I am happy. I am fulfilled, I am healthy, I am in love with my life. And more than anything, I am grateful for this second chance.
::Alexis is an Alumni of Ascend and has now completed her first year of law school.::